Caltrans reports to transportation commission

Caltrans has been working throughout Susanville and Lassen County all summer, and now that the end of construction season is approaching, the department is wrapping up its projects.

Caltrans project manager for Lassen County, Mike Mogen, shared updates of the department’s local work at the Sept. 16 meeting of the Lassen County Transportation Commission.

Mogen shared news of the closure of a rest area, a curve correction project, the completion of a curve correction near Worley Ranch on Highway 44 and the completion of other local projects.

The first piece of news from Mogen pertained to the closing of the Secret Valley Rest Area, between Susanville and Alturas. The closing occurred due to the lack of cleaning services available to the rest area.

“We couldn’t find anybody to clean it,” said Mogen, who relayed the message of its closure by Caltrans until someone to take over cleaning the rest area twice per day could be found.

Lassen County  Transportation Commission president and mayor pro tem Joseph Franco asked Mogen, “Why is it so difficult to get somebody to clean it?”

Mogen said Caltrans had put the work out to bid, and received absolutely no responses. He also noted the department paid $40,000 per year to have someone clean it twice per day.

Because the party responsible for cleaning services for the rest area would need to haul the garbage away, as well as have a portable water tank, Mogen explained it was not so easy a job.

The work at Worley Ranch on Highway 44 has pavement, striping and a curve correction almost complete.

He also told the LCTC about the Capital Maintenance project on Main Street, which is almost complete. Mogen said, “It’s coming to an end. So hopefully this week we get some striping down. Hopefully it’s in the right spot.”

The striping will cause lane closures, so the work will be completed at night. There will also work completed on manholes and water valves, and Mogen even offered the commission and city an opportunity to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the CAPM project’s completion. The response to the offer was less than enthusiastic.

Mogen didn’t think it was appropriate to hold the ceremony, but told them, “I’m asking you guys. This is your community.”

The conversation quickly diverted to the past differences between the pavement and the gutters on Weatherlow Drive. Franco drew attention to the issue, describing the former situation as “miserable.”

“I have to get my truck realigned and get new tires,” said Franco, to which Mogen interjected, “I’ll get you a claim form.”

There was a slight and muddled laugh within the room.

Franco brought forth another question to Mogen, asking, “On (Highway) 36, from Fredonyer … to Good Ridge Creek, you have a project going on right now?”

Mogen responded the project was an “emergency job.”

He further explained the circumstances, “That project, we’re doing a rehab through there, and replacing the Good Ridge Creek bridge … so that will happen next summer.”

LCTC member and Lassen County Supervisor Tom Hammond asked, “So why are you cutting all of the trees on the sides of the road?”

Mogen responded that there will be a widening of the road.

“After these fires last year, we’re focused on trying to … basically, clean out our right-of-way,” said Mogen. “You may or may not know, but we were sued in the Carr Fire. Some people thought it was partially our fault because we weren’t clearing out our right-of-way, so we’re making a huge effort statewide.”

The work on the road will continue into the next construction season.